A month into Twitter, it has been a fascinating model of online networking for me.  The simplicity of thinking in 140 character bites is a good minimalist challenge, while the pervasive availability of the Twitter stream (web, IM, e-mail, txt message, Notes plug-in, and Blackberry) makes it really addictive.  A few of my observations as my use evolves:

  • Direct tweets are weird.  Don't I have 20 other ways to get to the same people?  Yet I find myself using them as a reply method here and there...not sure I would ever initiate contact through one.
  • There are some fascinating secondary stream uses of Twitter.  I mentioned the Jewish holiday Passover yesterday in a tweet...and found myself followed by @JewishTweets.  Someone chose to follow me through Twubble, and instantly, @Twubble was following me.  @SeatGuru is following me, I'm not sure how they even considered that I would be worth following.  These streams introduce new content sources and voices to my stream.
  • The potential for overload, loss of signal to noise ratio, or distraction is very high.  The discussions in the Twitter stream are fascinating... I am not yet sure if they are helping me professionally or just further institutionalizing ADHD.
  • I see a lot of Twitter content that really belongs inside a company firewall.  Sometimes, Twitter users seem to forget that it is a broadcast communications tool, and that their now-even-more-unvarnished thoughts are out there for all to see.

Sam Lawrence, the CMO of Jive Software, is a huge Twitter user.  Today on his blog, he is exploring the notion of Twitter as a social computer in two directions -- inside and outside a company.  I have been talking about this concept a lot -- how an increasing percentage of my daily interaction is outside of IBM, and how I believe that this helps me make better decisions and be more responsive inside of IBM.  Sam's theory is that Twitter can break down the walls even further:
While even the esteemed Twitterari enjoy efficient, rich communication through their social network, those same people often turn around and are stuck sending old-fart email around their company. Their social network consists of the few people they know on their email mailing list. There's no internal Twitter-like communication. But, hypothetically, your company could be a kick-butt social computer, too. You're all on the same basic mission and actually a social network by definition.
The discussion on his blog has spun off into the notion of whether there should or should not be an "enterprise Twitter", or other ideas like channels and filters.  I personally would love to see two parallel streams -- IBMers and external -- in terms of visualization, even if the tweets themselves still end up in both places.  The other thing I'd like to watch for is how to better monitor who follows me -- it's a good reminder that the whole stream is public, and that any one 140 character string can certainly be taken out of context.

Link: Sam Lawrence: Twitter: A two-way social computer? >

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